The NBA has changed for the better. Star players are realizing one star on a team can’t equate the value of two-or-three.
Sure, Damien Lillard and Russell Westbrook aren’t willing to sell out to chase rings with super teams. But in the long run, it may become a logic built on a fallacy.
Currently, all eyes are on Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo and whether he will seek out an additional superstar. Antetokounmpo has one of the NBA’s greatest upsides. His skill set and size is something that hasn’t been seen in the NBA. But even he could probably tell us that to truly contend in the NBA, he needs another superstar asset.
The question that begs in this situation, though, is who would be the perfect courtier for Giannis?
To evaluate Giannis on what type of superstar would fit, first we must see who could complement him. Over the years, the trend in superstar pairings is complementation. Ben Simmons works with Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler because he’s not a shooter, and Butler and Embiid relish those opportunities on the perimeter.
In the Warriors case, Kevin Durant complements the Warriors basketball philosophy and style. But he’s a willing scorer and can take over a game when needed. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson rely on their system to get open and usually can take care of the game with their shooting. Durant has become the Warriors cheat code if their system breaks down.
Lastly, in Houston and Oklahoma City, Chris Paul and Paul George rely on efficiency offensively while James Harden and Russell Westbrook depend on a high-volume/low-efficiency stat game. It isn’t pretty, but it works.
Giannis Antetokounmpo relies primarily on an inside presence, so he shouldn’t chase for a star player who plays in a similar manner. Because this is the pace-and-space era, an elite shooter would suffice such as Klay Thompson. Thompson is slated to become a free agent this summer and perhaps will look for a team that can provide clarity. However, Thompson has stated he has no intentions on leaving the Bay area.
Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler will be free agents, too. Both star players skill sets rely on attacking the basket but both are well-acquainted with the perimeter. But Leonard will most likely seek out a team with a larger market and Butler maybe content in Philadelphia.
Anthony Davis could come via trade, but that means giving up valuable players and draft assets. Besides, he hovers around the basket which could slow down Giannis game. It wouldn’t be a great idea to “Chris Bosh” Anthony Davis’ game.
But there is one player who doesn’t have much to lose, and not much to gain who could greatly assist Giannis. Kevin Durant.
Imagine a team that’s already dangerous with shooters such as Malcolm Brogdon and Khris Middleton. Giannis Antetokounmpo is in transition and he can either pass it to his two shooters for an available three or pass it to a streaking Kevin Durant for a transition dunk.
With Durant, there are so many scoring scenarios. But most importantly Giannis has another scoring threat that can give him 25-plus points a night. Durant is a system buster and a scoring machine. Giannis can easily average a triple-double by kicking it out to Durant once defenses grow tiresome of him dominating the paint.
And also imagine the small ball versatility that a Durant signing could present. If Durant and Giannis are the 4 and 5 on the floor, this would allow Middleton, Brogdon and possibly Eric Bledsoe to be on the floor at once. This allows Milwaukee five ball handlers and four shooters, with their best two players as 6’11 behemoths.
This, of course, isn’t likely, as Durant may have his sights set on New York. However, this would be the most logical pairing for both Durant and Giannis. Giannis Antetokounmpo is granted an elite scorer with a timeless game. Durant has another superstar next to him but would be granted more autonomy within the Milwaukee offensive structure.
Can’t forget that Durant’s championship expertise would also be a plus. Giannis has yet to make a deep run in the playoffs, and Durant is putting in the work to win his third straight NBA title. Durant will have nothing left to prove with the Warriors outside of chasing the Chicago Bulls 1990’s dynasty. A move to Milwaukee will give Durant a new challenge to chase and give him the title as the teacher. Just as Curry and the Warriors taught him.
But hypotheticals will only hold the curious NBA media over until the free agency period begins in July. If Giannis dethrones the Warriors or whoever comes out of the Western Conference, he may not feel compelled to recruit another superstar. If he falls short, that may push him closer to recruiting for one. In case he does, Durant would be the perfect match for Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks for the 2020’s decade.